“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Whaling Out of San Francisco

Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
1. Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker
Captions: (top photo) Whaler drying her sails in the November sun, 1886.
Inscription. Whaling was more dangerous than ever in the late 19th Century, as the number of whales declined and it became necessary to venture farther north and stay longer in pursuit. By the early 1880s, the bomb lance, an iron tube 20 inches long and an inch in diameter, was loaded with dynamite and prepared to explode inside the whale. The bomb lance was shot from a gun that enabled small whale boats to remain at a safe distance from the dying agonies of the whale.
The more whales that were killed the fewer that were left to kill. Kerosene replaced sperm whale oil, and later electricity superseded oil lamps. Women gave up boned corsets as fashions changed. The pursuit of whales by men in open boats from San Francisco became a thing of the past in 1910.
(photograph 3)
Stacks of baleen - bone from the whale's jaw - created a jungle as it drys at the Arctic Oil Works in the Potrero. In 1882, whalebone was worth $2.50 a pound, a the season's catch in San Francisco was 354,000 pounds, worth $885,000 dollars. The primary use for baleen was for stays in women's corsets. San Francisco became the largest whaling port in the world between 1885 and 1905.
(photograph 4)
Thirteen Whalers Caught in the Arctic Sea Of these San Francisco Vessels six are believed to be safe, but Fear is felt Regarding Other
Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
2. Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker
Seven Ships. Out of the frozen north, where the seas of the short summer have now become bleak deserts of ice and the night lasts for months is closing in, there came yesterday a tale of thirteen whalers caught somewhere in the frigid wastes that stretch eastward and westward from Point Barrow, a tale of perilous exposure to scurvy and possible death of the five hundred men the whalers carried with them when they sailed away from San Francisco months ago. It is believed that six of these thirteen vessels are safe, since they took up the long trail to the Arctic, they were provisioned for two years. For the remaining vessels, which number seven, there are grave fears...Captain L.W. Williams, a whaling skipper who has hunted the leviathans in the Arctic for the past thirty years, takes a hopeful view, "There need be no fear that the men on the ships will starve. There are plenty of fish to be had in the Arctic. Reindeer are abundant on shore. The thing to fear is that some of the ships may have tried to buck their way out and are frozen westward of Point Barrow. In that case they would be in grave danger of being crushed in the heavy Arctic ice pack."
(photograph 5)
From 1884 to 1926 the famous revenue cutter Bear made her annual trip to polar waters as a floating outpost of the U.S. government. Her captain was the policeman and judge, prosecutor and defender,
Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
3. Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker
physician and minister, teacher and mailman to all of the America's adopted people in the Arctic Circle - including whalers. For 53 years she battered icebergs, rescued the perishing, succored distressed shipping, rushed aid to famine-stricken people, and broke up piracy and poaching among sealers. The Bear was San Francisco's lifeline to the whaling fleet whenever the winter closed in.

Whalers out of San Francisco from 1876 to 1923

(right side of the pylon)
Florence, a 56 ton schooner, 1876 Flying Fish, a 75 ton schooner, 1876 Golden West, a 144 ton schooner, 1879 L.P. Simmons, an 89 ton schooner, 1876 Trinity, a 317 ton bark, 1876 Dawn, a 260 ton bark, 1877 N.J. Roscoe, an 89 ton bark, 1878 Coral, a 362 ton bark, 1878 Alaska, a 139 ton schooner, 1879 Francis Palmer, a 195 ton bark, 1879 Hidalgo, a 175 ton brigantine, 1879 Abram Barker, a 380 ton bark, 1881 Norman, a 317 ton bark, 1881 Rainbow, a 351 ton bark, 1881 Atlantic, a 297 ton bark, 1881 Belvedere, a 508 ton steam whaler, 1881 Eliza, a 297 ton bark, 1881 Hellen Mar, a 324 ton bark, 1881 Hunter, a 355 ton bark, 1881 John Howland, a 384 ton bark, 1881 Northern Light , a 385
Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, December 18, 2014
4. Whaling Out of San Francisco Marker
ton bark 1881 Progress , a 359 ton bark, 1881 Sea Breeze, a 323 ton bark, 1881 Thomas Pope, a 227 ton bark, 1881 Tropic Bird, a 181 ton brigantine, 1881 Arnolda, a 340 ton bark, 1882 Bowhead, a 533 ton steamer, 1882 Josephine, a 385 ton bark, 1882 Louisa, a 304 ton bark, 1882 Lucretia, a 350 ton streamer. 1882 Noble, a 188 ton bark, 1882 Mary & Susan, a 237 ton bark, 1882 Ohio II, a 363 ton bark., 1882 Sea Breeze, a 323 ton bark, 1882

(back of the pylon)
Reindeer, 352 ton bark, 1882 Young Phoenix, a 355 ton ship, 1882 Amethyst, a 356 ton bark, 1883 Baelena , a 524 steam whaler, 1883 Bounding Billow, a 240 ton bark, 1883 Clara Light , a 179 ton schooner. 1883 Cyane , a 296 ton schooner, 1883 Gazelle, a 273 ton bark, 1883 Mary & Helen II, a 508 ton steamer, 1883 Narwhal, a 524 ton steamer, 1883 Orca, a 628 ton streamer. 1883 Page , a 100 ton schooner. 1883 Stamboul , a 260 ton bark, 1883 Wanderer, a 303 ton bark,1883 Caleb Eaton, a 110 ton schooner, 1884 Cape Horn Pigeon, a 212 ton bark, 1884 E.F. Herriman, a 385 ton bark, 1884 Mars, a 256 ton bark, 1884 Napoleon, a 322 ton bark, 1884 Ocean, a 288 ton bark, 1884 Thrasher, a 512 ton steamer, 1884 Alliance, a 271 ton steamer, 1885 Andrew Hicks, a 271 ton steamer, 1885 Europa, a 323 ton bark, 1885 George & Susan, a 343 ton bark, 1885 Lydia, a 330 ton bark, 1885 Grampus, a 326 ton steamer, 1886 James A. Hamiton, a 77 ton schooner, 1886 San Jose, 32 ton schooner, 1886 Beluga, a 508 ton steamer. 1887 Charles W. Morgan, a 314 ton bark, 1887 Ino, a 98 ton schooner, 1887 Lancer, a 296 ton bark, 1887 William Bayless, a 325 ton bark, 1889 Jane Grey, a 113 ton schooner, 1889

(left side of the pylon)
James Allen, a 348 ton bark, 1889 Lagoda, a 371 ton bark, 1889 La Ninta, a 126 ton schooner, 1889 Rosario, a 149 ton schooner, 1889 Alice Knowles, a 303 ton bark, 1889 Alton, an 89 ton schooner, 1889 J.H. Freeman, a 515 ton steamer, 1889 John F. West, a 353 ton bark, 1889 Nicoline, a 69 ton schooner, 1889 Sea Ranger, a 273 ton bark, 1889 Tamerlane, a 372 ton bark, 1889 Triton, a 265 ton bark, 1889 William Lewis, 463 ton steamer, 1889 Bonanza, 235 ton schooner, 1890 Francis Barstow, a 128 ton brig, 1890 William D. Meyer, a 169 ton brig, 1890 Emma D. Herriman, a 385 ton bark, 1891 California, a 365 ton bark, 1891 Horatio, a 349 tone bark, 1892 John & Winthrop, a 338 ton bark, 1892 Karluk, a 321 ton steamer, 1892 Newport, a 281 ton steamer, 1892 Percy Edward, a 199 ton brig, 1892 Blakeley, a 152 ton brigantine, 1893 Jeanette, 190 ton steamer, 1893 Mermaid, a 273 ton bark, 1893 Narvarch, a 494 ton steamer, 1893 Alexander, a 294 ton steamer, 1894 Fearless, a 400 ton steamer, 1894 Gotma, a 198 ton steamer, 1903 Monterey, 126 ton gas steamer, 1903 Morning Star, a 471 ton steamer Barbara Hernster, a 148 ton gas steamer,1904 Herman, a 410 ton steamer, 1904 Olga, a 46 ton schooner, 1904

Erected by San Francisco Art Commission for the Waterfront Transportation Projects.
Location. 37° 46.884′ N, 122° 23.286′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is on The Embarcadero near Townsend Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 733 The Embarcadero, San Francisco CA 94107, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Java House (within shouting distance of this marker); Townsend Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Ghost Ship - Lydia (within shouting distance of this marker); Shipbuilding at Steamboat Point (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Remnants of Rincon Hill (about 400 feet away); Building the Seawall (about 600 feet away); The Alaska Packers (about 700 feet away); The Oriental Warehouse (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
More about this marker. This marker is located at the northern end of South Beach Park.
Additional keywords. Whaling
Categories. Industry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 2, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 256 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 2, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.
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